The Buffalo Bisons baseball team today put the city on notice that Pilot Field needs major cleaning work before the 1989 season opener in six days and expressed strong doubt that the city is up to the task.
The team threatened to hire the manpower, equipment and supervision needed to shape up the one-year-old stadium and bill the city.
These points were made in a letter to George A. Gould, stadium director, from Maureen O. Hurley, team lawyer. The Buffalo News obtained a copy from sources that asked not to be identified.
The letter followed a walking tour of the stadium Wednesday by four team representatives and two city employees. Ms. Hurley wrote:
"It was clear to everyone in attendance that the magnitude of the cleaning necessary to ready Pilot Field for opening day far exceeds the city's estimate of the manpower, equipment, time and supervision required."
She said team officials were told no orga
nized city cleaning of the stadium would begin until Monday in advance of the opening game with the Louisville Redbirds at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Ms. Hurley continued: "The city is allotting just over two days to clean a facility that was never subjected to a final cleaning at the end of last season and which has since accumulated seven months of off-season dirt and debris.
"Also, since no cleaning contractor has yet been selected by the city, it is unclear as to how many people will even be available on (Monday) to 'begin' this cleaning."
She said the team "fully expects" the city to provide a facility "to be proud of on opening day," in line with the stadium lease which makes cleaning a city responsibility.
"Should it become clear to us that Pilot Field will not be adequately cleaned by opening day, the Bisons reserve all rights to seek additional manpower, equipment and supervision necessary and to charge the city for these additional services."
Gould was not immediately available to comment.
Bison President Robert E. Rich Jr. was not on the walking tour and had not seen Mr. Hurley's letter. He would say only: "We're getting closer and we want the field looking good. We'll be ready by opening day."
If the Bisons hire outside help, it will be a replay of the 1988 season. Dissatisfied with the city's cleanup work, the team hired a private company and billed the city $126,574 for the work.
Eventually there was a compromise under which the city shelled out $85,000 and agreed to a detailed cleaning schedule for future years.
Another provision stipulated the mutual appointment of a third-party mediator to advise the parties when they cannot agree.
Ms. Hurley said the mediator, Paul Andrzejewski, "has indicated that the cleaning requests we have made for specific areas of Pilot Field are entirely reasonable and appropriate."